Decarbonising as part of sustainable development

Decarbonisation means reducing, and ultimately eliminating, carbon dioxide emissions. It is essential in tackling climate change and a fundamental issue facing all industries

The rail industry intends to decarbonise through improved energy efficiency, new power sources and modal shift.

Our members are committed to the pursuit of a net zero carbon railway. Less carbon means less cost, and the more ambitious we are, the more we are helping the country meet its carbon targets.

Being ‘carbon smart’ is one of the rail industry’s Sustainable Development Principles.

The government’s challenge

On 12 February 2018, the government challenged the rail industry to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and to provide a vision for how it will decarbonise. 

In response, the rail industry’s Decarbonisation Task Force was set up with membership from organisations representing major parts of the industry, and chaired by Malcolm Brown. 

Final report by the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Task Force

On 22 July 2019, the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Task Force and RSSB published its final report for the Rail Minister - preview below.

This recommends that the industry and government work together on a national strategy so that rail can play a major role in contributing to the UK economy becoming net carbon zero by 2050.

The report includes an economic appraisal and a route map for delivery a low carbon railway.

UK economy becoming net carbon zero by 2050 

It builds on the findings of the Initial Report to the Rail Minister published in January 2019, which outlined technical options.

The reports are underpinned by an extensive research project ‘Options for traction energy decarbonisation in rail’ – project reference T1145 – which is available to download from SPARK. This research improves our understanding of the path towards decarbonising traction energy, and the associated economic and commercial case.